By Beverly Barr

Folk dances are ethnic dances from countries around the world, and they are danced in many different venues with different emphasis. There are recreational groups, performing groups, and ethnic groups that dance their own country’s dances. Dances are from Israel, Scandinavia, Armenia, Greece, Turkey, the Balkans, the Mideast, South America, the South Pacif ic, Africa, Scotland, England, the U.S.A. and many more. Some dances are ancient, even from countries that no longer exist, and some are more recent creations. Some dance groups also include a few contradances and line dances in their international folk dance repertoire.

Folk dancing is primarily fun, but it is also a beautiful learning experience. Through folk dance, we learn about the different cultures of the world and hear the wonderful and exciting music of different countries. If you sit out during a dance, you still enjoy the music that surrounds you.

Recreational international folk dancing is what I am most involved in and we do dances from all countries. Folk dancing is a hobby that many people of all ages enjoy. Recreational groups can be found all over the world. There are many very large folk dance festivals and weekend and full week folk dance retreats that are available for all to attend and enjoy.

Folk dancing is a wonderful, non-threatening environment in which to meet people. No partners are needed and singles and couples all mingle together. Life-long friendships are often made, and a common bond is formed between people that you would otherwise probably never get to know or befriend. Folk dancers make up an extended family.

Regardless of your skill level, you are equally accepted by the group. Most folk dance groups are warm, friendly, and helpful to those learning the dances.

There are wonderful side benefits of folk dancing. It is good, vigorous exercise that is easy to do several times a week. While folk dancing, you free yourself of the stresses and problems in your life. Your mind is clear and open to the wonderful music and to learning new dances.

For a schedule of area international folk dances, check - international. Groups specializing in specific national/ethnic dancing can also be found in the Ongoing Dances page, Many of the international folk dance groups belong to the Folk Dance Federation of California South,

Beverly Barr is an active folk dance teacher and leader of several groups. To reach her call (310) 202-6166.